18th May 1915, Tue: ‘D’ Coy proceeded to relieve ‘C’ Coy. CASUALTY: KILLED: 9998 Pte Swancott ‘C’ Coy. 19th May Wed: ‘C’ Coy inspected by Bdr Gen. Feetham. 20th May,Thur: Proceeded to the trenches in relief of 6th Souths at 9.0 pm. CASUALTIES: WOUNDED: 9899 Pte A.D.Wood 7855 L/C J. Bird (slightly wounded); 6108 Sgt E. Lloyd. 21st May, Fri: Enemy burst seven shells over 9A support. Otherwise quiet day. CASUALTY: WOUNDED: 8707 Pte J. G. Bennett.
The ‘Listener’s Lounge’ Friday May 21st / 15
My Dear Mother & Father,
All about Smoking.
To begin with dear Mother you were the Ist to convey the news of our letters being ‘in the paper’. I mentioned the fact to Norman Cope & Cyril Hinde who are in the same hut in camp. Norman was puzzled, he could not remember writing a letter which would be likely to appear in any paper & we all three could not think of the paper it could be in. I thought of the Advertiser, Syd of the Birmingham Mail.
Well the puzzle was solved on Syd’s birthday I believe, or the day after, when Cope got The Express & Star. How we roared at the large block heading & how flattered we felt. We indeed were ignorant of such consequences on acknowledging the bacca which by the by was issued with the rations – little packets of Kitcheners and Roll Call cigarettes & a packet of Matins ‘Arf a Mo’ tobacco with a PC in each packet, having the address of the contributor. * * * * * * * * * *
‘An Explanation & A Request. The smokes in this parcel have been subscribed by the United States, as a testimony of their kindly feelings towards the cause of the Allies. They would naturally be glad to hear from you of the safe arrival of the parcels, and would treasure a momento from the trenches, in the shape of a few words from the men ‘who are making history’ at the Front.’ Over-Seas Club, Tobacco Fund, General Buildings, Aldwych, London W.C.
* * * * * * * * * * Have you had my letter written on his coming of age? another racking of my brains for a real Birthday one. If you did I guess, or rather I am wondering greatly, what sort of opinions Mother & Father will have of me for smoking Syd’s health. Well I have not yet smoked a cigarette & I know Dad prefers apipe.
I shall have to be a smoker now. Miss Foster has ‘done it in’ for me. Fancy, she addressed the parcel to me & not to Syd. Of course the contents were for us both. Guess? – why Country Life cigs with a nice letter enclosed.
Miss Foster seems to be puzzled with regard to our ‘diggings’ – she had an idea we lived in houses.
Now look here Mum, what can you make of Mrs Jones, isn’t she TOO BAD. Why another couple of tins of Embassy & two more of Nestles. I gave Syd a good share of one box. Vernon, Oh Vernon – now I have smoked a pipe on Syd’s 21st, has jokingly pestered me to smoke one of his cigs. After tea he sais a smoke is most soothing, and at the rest, on a march when my head ached, he said a cigarette would put me all right.
Should you agree to me smoking could you please send me a white bone cigarette holder & if you are kind enough to consider Syd too, one for him; but perhaps he doesn’t want one. Perhaps Harold would subscribe for a cigarette holder. The smoking will help to keep down bad smells, by the by. A Lieut. passed the Listener’s Lounge & remarked upon the ‘Hum’ – ‘What is it?’ he said ‘ a cow or a horse? ‘An awful smell to be sure!’
Vernon’s sister has sent him some lovely shortcake biscuits & a few currant cakes & some toffee all of her make & he was very generous in letting Syd & me sample some.
Your letter Mother written on Syd’s birthday was ripping, long & of course most Motherly. I often picture you in Church alone. Couldn’t Dodger go with you some Sunday evenings now summer is coming?
Talking about Nature which goes on as usual – the war only affecting man’s work such as houses etc – on going & coming to & from from the trenches we often hear the Frogs croaking. There must, I should think, be an innumerable number of the songsters all along the fields, especially around the stagnant ponds.
Send some lilies, as Ida promised, – the garden will be lovely if all goes on well, considering what Basil said in his past letter.
If you don’t get a letter for some long time after it was written you will know it was written in the trenches where there is no outward post until we get back to Camp. I guess Basil will tell you when we are coming out of the trenches & the day we are going into them. Go to Camp next Monday night.
I promised Vernon I shall not smoke again until I hear what you & Dad have to say on the matter. We have had wet weather in Camp, but today, as I am writing this, the sun is scorching & I shall have to close now as I am getting sweaty. I expect a letter from Harold tomorrow, for he said he was writing to me. So Fred York* called did he? – well I wrote to him & Harold on the 6th when I wrote those letters you were anxious about, namely acknowledging the good parcels.
It is not very often that I miss (filling) a page, but I am getting exhausted of reliable news.
Best love to all.
It was very kind & considerate of you to visit Bailey’s mother*.
Best love, Bertram. Censor W.E. Wright.
My Memories of the First World War. The Revd Arthur H. Hibbett. 1967. ‘At The Cenacle, British Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Berkenhead, a friend (Vernon Evans) gave me an Autograph Book in which I collected autos of the patients, written on cigarettes, which I cut in half and pasted on the pages. I spent my time doing drawings and sketches with my left hand.’
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT’S Autograph Album. Signatures collected at The Cenacle, British Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Birkenhead. 1916 – 1917. Troops Autos & their Cigarettes: 1) The Queen’s Westminster. July 1916. Ward 6. Rifleman G.Hughes, De Reszhe as supplied. Rflm A.J. Bays, Abdullah & Co. Ltd. EW Bond Street. Turkish Fine.
2) Scottish Regiments: J. Beck 1/10th Liverpool Scottish. Capstan & Navy Cut. Medium. W.D. & H.D. Wills. ‘J. Beck underwent almost 10 operations’.
3) Irish Regiments. 1st London Irish Rifles. A. Kelly Pte. South Irish Horse, Players No 3 Virginia; E.J. Leggett, Rifleman. R.E. Notasa(?) Ltd. Picadilly, London. Turkish Grade No 4; L/Corpl. Sofetig (?) Gold Flake, W.D. & H.D. Wills.
4) R.A.M.C. (Royal Army Medical Corps). J. Whyte. Players ‘Medium’ Navy Cut. Ernest C. Kirk (ditto).
NEXT POST: 30th May 1915.